Decades of listening to the troubles of readers have taught me what to expect when automobile keys are mentioned: The reader will tell me that he inadvertently locked himself out of his car while many miles from home.

Sometimes a passing policeman is asked to open the car door, but can't. Sometimes there is no policeman in the story and we skip right down to the bottome line. A locksmith is called and he charges from $30 to $50.

It is difficult for me to read letters of this kind without delivering my standard lecture on foresightedness. One who doesn't want to be embarrassed, inconvenienced or put to unnecessary expense carries duplicates of his keys, and carries them in different pockets.

For men, it's that simple. But women's clothes contain few pockets, so the problem is more complex.

When Mrs. J. W. Pusey of Alexandria left the Montgomery Ward Store in Springfield Mall and tried to start her car, her ignition key broke in half. And she had no duplicate.

Returning to the store with the two pieces, Mrs. Pusey went to the counter where keys are made and asked, "Can you make one key that duplicates two pieces?"

The woman behind the counter said, "Let's try." She locked the peices into her vise, made a key, and then said, "Before you pay for it, try it and make sure it works."

It worked, and this time the automobile key story had a happy ending. Mrs. Pusey is delighted that Montgomery Ward picked such a nice woman as its keymaker.